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Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

The Importance of Forgiveness in Love

  • Michael Smalley, M.A. Michael Smalley is a marriage and family counselor
  • 2000 12 Dec
  • COMMENTS
The Importance of Forgiveness in Love
Love. What a powerful feeling to know you are with the one person you believe to be the only one right for you! There's a magical moment when you realize you can't imagine spending another day without this person next to you. Every thought is consumed with fantasies and incredible expectations for the future. Sound familiar?

You might be experiencing these very feelings right now: excitement, anticipation and confidence. Amy and I were in this mode just two weeks after we started dating. We actually discussed marriage on the second day. There was no doubt for either of us that we were meant to be together. I felt like nothing or no one could ever prevent our being together "till death do us part." That is, till I made a visit to Conroe, Texas, just two weeks after we started dating.

Amy gave me permission to use this illustration from our own lives because it was such a major turning point in our relationship.

I couldn't believe I was on a plane going to see the one woman I had dreamed about for three years. I met Amy when I was a freshman at Baylor and she was a sophomore. I became a yell-leader, which is just a way to say I was a male cheerleader, just to be close to her and to try to win her over. My plans didn't quite work out like I'd hoped, for when I made the team and became closer to Amy, I found out she was practically engaged. I discovered this only three months after making the yell-leading squad, and Amy had been the only reason I had joined it.

Obviously things worked out. Our experience is a long and incredible story of God's grace and miraculous power. But only two weeks into our budding relationship, Amy shared something that would change the course of our relationship forever.

We had just spent a wonderful day on Lake Conroe, jet-skiing, sun tanning and having fun in the humid, stifling heat of Conroe, Texas, just north of Houston. It felt like I was living a dream, which was partly true, because a dream was all I had had for three years prior to this day. Everything seemed perfect, everything seemed blessed by God. Well, almost everything.

After spending the day at Lake Conroe, Amy and I were sitting on a couch in her parents' house. I don't remember exactly what we were doing, but I remember vividly what happened next. Amy looked up at me cautiously.

"I have to tell you something," she said in a quiet voice.

"OK," I quickly responded, like it was no big deal.

"Well, it's serious, and I don't want to hide anything from you in this relationship," she said hesitantly. I wanted to stop her, because her face appeared to say, "This might end what we have here!" I didn't want any part of that, but thanks to God, what Amy shared next opened my eyes to a new world of the power of forgiveness.

"I want you to know that I'm not a virgin." Amy almost seemed to grimace at the sound of her own voice, like she was now something less than what she'd been only seconds before.

The statement took me by surprise, so I didn't say anything at first. This allowed Amy to open up even more, "I wanted you to know because I wanted to give you the opportunity to end this relationship before it got any more serious."

"End this relationship!" I thought to myself, "Did I just hear that?" The one woman I've dreamt about for three years now believes she is not worth my interest any longer because she's not a virgin. I was stunned. Not to hear that she wasn't a virgin, but because she thought I might not want to date her because of it.

Amy began to cry ever so slightly, and I noticed the gleam of her tears running down the side of her cheek in the dim light. Since then, Amy has said that what happened next freed her to experience the full weight of God's forgiveness and allowed her to move gracefully into her future by forgiving her past.

I'd like to admit that what I did was all my idea. But I would be less than honest in doing so. However, I am glad it happened. As we both sat on the couch in an awkward silence, Amy wondering what our future was to be, and myself wondering what to say next, God reminded me of a story.

I didn't say a word, but instead, got up and went into the bathroom. I got a bucket and cloth. Amy must have been confused. Still silent, I knelt down before Amy and began cleansing her feet with the cloth and bucket of water. The moment is forever etched in our memories.

As each stroke of the cloth touched her bare feet, I reminded Amy of all the ways she was blessed by God. I reminded her of the innocence that was hers in Christ. I reminded her that if I expected to marry someone perfect, I'd never get married. We both started weeping! It was magical for the two of us.

This kind of experience is what makes forgiveness a necessity for any relationship, especially the relationship of a husband and wife. One of the privileges of being an adult is to experience life's greatest joys and its greatest sorrows. We become capable of making very important decisions affecting the rest of our lives. Our decisions may require that we seek or accept forgiveness.

This is the first article in a series of articles focused on forgiveness, if you would like to learn more about this topic and many other issues regarding your most important relationships, please visit our Web site at www.smalleyonline.com/home.htm

How can you strengthen your marriage? Read Michael's tips on Becoming One: A Foundational Principle for a Passionate Marriage.